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Funding To Help Indian River Lagoon Included In Budget Taking Effect Tuesday

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

About 160 bills are expected to take effect Tuesday, including this year’s budget. One research institute is hailing it as a victory, after the Governor signed the budget into law containing a provision that helps fund projects to help the Indian River Lagoon.

Last year, Governor Rick Scott vetoed $2 million in the budget to study the polluted water in the Indian River Lagoon—where thousands of acres of sea grass were destroyed and the source of a mysterious mass animal die-off that left manatees, pelicans, and dolphins dead.

“I think he understands this is a much more serious problem perhaps than he did last year. He saw, I think, the pushback from that announcement when that veto was announced. And, of course, the serious situation with the manatees…that’s not going away anytime soon,” said Dr. Brian Lapointe.

Lapointe is a lead researcher at the Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce. He’s speaking about the $2 million in the budget Scott approved this year for the institute aimed at helping both the St. Lucie Estuary and the surrounding Indian River Lagoon, a Central Florida 156-mile estuary.

It will go toward further measuring water quality in real-time using what’s called Land Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory or LOBO units, and help determine the state’s next steps in helping the troubled areas.

“…to really take a retrospective look at how we got here, what the major sources of nutrients are, as we urbanized these watersheds…the relative importance, for example, of residential fertilizers vs. septic tanks,” added Lapointe.

Lapointe says by doing that, researchers will better understand how the lagoon is responding to influxes of water and nutrients, which scientists believe is causing the water pollution.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.